13 August, 2010

How I Vote - for those who wonder, and those who think they know....

In the course of some Twitter comments and discussions, more than a couple of people have suggested or implied that I am a one-eyed Labor supporter. In fairness, I can see why some might think so if they take certain comments in isolation, just as some might leap to the same conclusion from certain posts here. Allow me to address such assumptions....

I'm not going to tell you how I vote, but I'll tell you this much:
I voted for the first time in the 1990 federal election. Since then, in state and federal elections, upper and lower house, I have voted Labor, I have voted Liberal, I have voted Democrat, I have voted National and I have voted independent. I don't think I've ever voted according to the card, and I've never voted for the same party in both the House and Senate. Although I haven't moved in that time, the electoral boundaries have, so the electorates I've lived in have vacillated between marginal Labor, blue-ribbon National and marginal Liberal.

I'm a swinging voter because I'd be a damn fool not to be. Professional pundits and former prime ministers have told us that this election will be won or lost in marginal electorates. No shit, Sherlock? Next they'll be telling us it's the swinging voters in those electorates who will make the difference. Voting out of habit or tradition means parties and candidates never have to earn your vote. Privately, parties despise swinging voters. They regard them as flaky and disloyal. They don't have to impress habitual voters; all they have to do is not be the other side.

This is why I have a profound disagreement with those who say it would create a healthier democracy if we had voluntary voting. Their reasoning is that parties would then have to inspire people to get out and vote if they wanted to win. I think it would be the opposite. I think both parties would benefit from voter apathy because a party has nothing to fear from people who don't vote for them; they're only worried about people who would vote against them.

Sometimes I vote according to who I want, sometimes I vote according to who I don't want. You don't have to look for someone to vote for. No matter how uninspiring the choices are, there's always a least worst. There are plenty of times when my last preference has been chosen before my first.

That's how I choose at any election. It will be interesting to see if people still assume I'm a Labor man when the state election comes around later this year.

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